Statement on changing of advice to Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people

Date published: 23 December 2020

The Department of Health has updated the advice to Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people to help them keep safe through the Christmas period and beyond.

CEV people are reminded to consider very carefully any plans for a Christmas Bubble over the festive period. Unfortunately you remain extremely vulnerable to this virus and the safest options is not to form a Christmas bubble and avoid attending shops, pharmacies and hospitality settings unless absolutely necessary.

If you do decide that you wish to meet with family this should be for as short a time as possible with very strict precautions.

The advice in relation to CEV people attending the workplace has been changed.

Until now, CEV people had been advised that they should work from home if possible, but that it is safe to attend work if proper measures to ensure social distancing are in place.

From 26 December CEV people who are working and are unable to do so from home are advised not to attend the workplace.

It is important to note that this is advice only; people are free to make their own judgements about whether or not they should attend work, depending on the Covid-security of their working environment.

The general guidance that is in place in relation to household mixing, travel, wearing of face coverings and hand hygiene, and the additional restrictions recently agreed by Northern Ireland Executive to limit the spread of the virus, mean that CEV people will be protected from exposure to Covid-19 across a wide range of settings.

However, after careful consideration, the Chief Medical Officer and his team has concluded that additional advice for CEV people in relation to attending the workplace is necessary.

Dr McBride said: “The new variant of the virus, coupled with the pressure that our HSC services are experiencing, mean that the risks associated with Covid-19 are elevated. This strengthened advice is intended to offer enhanced protection from Covid-19 to the most vulnerable people in our society. It is not a return to shielding as we knew it at the outset of the pandemic. We are not advising CEV people to stay permanently indoors, and I would encourage CEV people to continue to go outside for exercise, provided they observe social distancing when they do so”.

This advice will be in place for 6 weeks initially, with a review after 4 weeks in line with the review of restrictions more generally.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Chief Medical Officer will be writing to everyone on the CEV list to advise them of this change in advice. The updated advice is available to access on the NI Direct website.
  2. Anyone who cannot attend work due to this advice and who is unable to work from home is eligible to apply for support.  Whilst the letter from the Chief Medical Officer references statutory sick pay, this is not the only support which may be available.  If the person is an employee, their employer may be able to make furlough arrangements under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021. They should discuss with their employer whether this is possible. If the person is self-employed they may be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. If they cannot work from home or cannot be furloughed, they may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit (UC). The letter from CMO is evidence for employers that the person is considered clinically extremely vulnerable in relation to Covid-19 and advised not to attend the workplace. There is no need to get a fit note from their GP. In the meantime, people can use their original letters as proof of being clinically extremely vulnerable in relation to Covid-19.
  3. Advice on the help that may be available from the benefit system can be accessed on the UK Government information website at:
  4. Children who were previously shielding can continue to attend school. Professional advice (from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) based on the evidence that has grown throughout the pandemic is that children are significantly less prone to serious forms of Covid than adults.
  5. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email
  6. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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